‘Milagros and Muerte’ exhibition features masks that honor the dead

Arizona artist Angel Luna will share an important part of his Mexican heritage with Northern Nevadans in an exhibit at Western Nevada College that celebrates the Day of the Dead. His exhibition of ceramic masks, “Milagros (Miracles) and Muerte (Death),” opens Nov. 1 in the Main Gallery at the Carson City campus, with a public reception from 5-7 p.m. The exhibit continues through Jan. 25. Luna, a ceramics studio owner and Arizona Western College professor of fine arts, will also offer a ceramics workshop for WNC classes and create a Day of the Dead altar with WNC Latino students in the Atrium Gallery. “The original Milagros are votive in reference to the answers of prayers,” Luna said. “In Mexico and the Southwest, when you pray for the removing of an ache or pain, you pray to a saint or altar. When the pain goes away like a miracle, you purchase a little votive representing the ailment that has been answered and place it on the altar or pin it to the sculpture representing the saint’s clothing. To reflect modern culture, Luna’s most recent Milagros masks are representative of modern “miracles” or present-day vices. The muerte portion of the exhibit reflects Luna’s past experiences with the Day of the Dead. “I make the skull masks to represent that which we leave behind,” Luna said. “In Mexico, the tradition is to poke fun at death and represent it as part of the cycle of life. We need to enjoy each day since they are numbered.” Luna’s colorful death masks are encrusted and evoke imagery. “The teeth are glazed to represent the enamel that still shines after we pass,” Luna said. “The flowers represent the cycle, the speed that they blossom and then die to pass on the seeds to start the cycle again.”


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